Nancy Duarte’s company has just launched www.Diagrammer.com, a source for buying individual PowerPoint slide designs. Kind of like istockphoto but for visual designs. The site offers five types of designs: flow, join, network, segment, and stack, with dozens of variations for each. The designs sell for 99c each. Check it out!
It’s been a few months since I handed over the gavel of the National Speakers Association. Oddly enough, most people expected me to go through PPD – post-presidential depression – a second cousin to post-partum depression. I keep waiting for the funk to set in, but I don’t think it’s going to happen. I’m just so excited about reconnecting with clients and re-engaging into the business!
Upon reflection, I thought I would share a few of my “insights” while serving as NSA President for the past year.
- Never check email after dinner or 7pm, whichever comes first. Even the slightest nuance, idea, or member concern will rattle around in your head throughout the night.
- It’s the People. I am often asked, “What’s the best part of being president? Hands down, it’s the people I have met. Learning from and leaning on people who have been there before you, who are going through the same trials and tribulations, and helping those who are traveling the road you just traveled.
- Experience Matters. I was chatting with a speaker who said his area of expertise was on leadership. I innocently asked, “So what have you led?” and he told me it was none of my business. I then discovered he had never managed nor led any organization! Nothing beats experience when talking about your area of expertise. Some call it practice what you preach. I call it “eat your own dog food.” If you talk about it, you should not only practice those same principles on and off the platform, but it should be so ingrained in your MO, your DNA, or tattooed on your rear end like one of my clients who manages assets. You think I’m kidding, she actually got a tattoo on her ass…ets! And I went and got myself a heap of experience at NSA when it comes to strategic planning, facilitating our board meetings and building a team!
- We are living in the Era of Engagement. People want to contribute – to provide input, to comment on what’s happening in their world. As professional speakers, the more we can ask for the audience’s contributions and comments up front, the better we can create an event that really connects with our audiences – and that they will want to keep the conversation flowing long after the presentation through blogs, listservs and discussion groups. Social networking is all about starting and keeping communities connected and the conversation flowing. We haven’t even begun to tap into the possibilities to connect with our clients, prospects, and with the entire world.
- Keep It Small, Focused and F2F. So here’s the curious thing. When 9/11 hit in 2001 and then when the global economy crashed and burned in 2008, the prognosis for the meetings industry was well, not so great. Theoretically, all of the meetings were going to shift to the virtual world. But that has NOT the case. What has happened is a global trend toward fewer meetings, smaller meetings and with the content more tightly focused. The value on these face-to-face meetings has become much higher as people are investing their time specifically in order to meet face to face. Meetings are also becoming smaller in number of attendees physically present, with an extended reach beyond the four walls of the meeting. These hybrid meetings include streaming video and content discussions running at the same time as the actual event so people outside the room can participate in real time.
- The world is indeed flat. We are living in a global economy. NSA-US is the world’s largest and oldest association dedicated to the art and business of professional speaking. It was a pleasure to travel around the nation and the world representing the NSA-US – and seeing just how much we have in common..
- Leadership is not about immediate gratification. Especially with a volunteer association steeped in tradition, suffice it to say that you won’t see immediate results. It is the long term progress to our strategic plan that keeps us focused and motivated, providing even greater value to our members.
I am thrilled with the progress NSA continues to make on behalf of our members, and I will hold dear the memories, experiences, and relationships with my speaker buddies. And, I am equally excited to get back to “work”!
I thank you for the tremendous opportunity to serve you and represent you throughout the United States as and world. See you in Anaheim soon!
Have you ever had a huge goal that took you a fair amount of time to achieve? It’s superbly satisfying to check the box, mark it off and celebrate success! In the last week, I have had THREE major milestones converge all at the same time!
1) I relinquished the Presidential gavel of the National Speakers Association to now-President Laura Stack, CSP. Although I remain as Immediate Past President with Nominating Committee and CEO Evaluation duties, it’s quite satisfying to be “done” as President – and to have made a difference. And since I talk about teamwork, the lessons learned leading a 3,100 member organization is priceless! You can read my swan song given at our business meeting at our National Convention last week.
2) After a year of mucking about with an aged website, I have finally launched a brand-new upgraded website. Still working out a few kinks, but I’m thrilled with the clean lines, ability to navigate easily and my new line of business:
3) As a high stakes meeting facilitator and professional speaker, I have merged the two skills into a new category: “Mainstage Conversationalist” – when presenting to a large group becomes more of an interactive discussion. I’ve been mulling this around for a year or so (ever since I became NSA President), trying to figure out what to call it, and how to position it in the marketplace. It has gotten some recent traction from forward-thinking executives and meeting planners who want the audience to be part of a meaningful discussion.
So, this past week has been a watershed week.
It all started with a goal – and some major milestones to make it happen. Without a goal without a due date is just a dream. When you add a dose of action, you’ll get real results!
One of the reasons I love long weekends is that I can catch up on my “reading” – including links, blogs, videos and the like that help me explore different lines of thinking.
The premise goes something like this: In order to innovate, you must first “copy”. I don’t like “copy” as a stand alone word, but it really means to “become fluent in the language of our domain – and we do that through emulation.” In the copy phase, you spend hours mastering the basic principles of your craft – typically by “copying” others to build a foundation of knowledge and understanding. Then once you have solid grounding in the fundamentals, creativity kicks in. You can create variations – which Kirby calls “transformational.”
So where does the notion of “copying” fit in with professional speaking? I have been noodling about this for the last few days.
As a professional speaker and as President of the National Speakers Association (NSA), we really discourage others from “copying” stories, speech patterns, brands, ideas, etc. And yes, it does happen. According to the filmmaker, Kirby Ferguson, I guess it HAS to happen. Neophytes will unintentionally copy (literally) someone else’s speech. At the Global Speakers Summit in Holland this year, I cringed in my seat when one of the mainstage speakers started channeling Dr. Wayne Dyer – without attribution!
But a PROFESSIONAL speaker is NOT a neophyte nor a book reporter. A professional speaker has already gone through the painstaking process of “copying” the fundamentals of their topic and techniques – reading, discussing, speaking, testing the theories, principles, methodologies, mechanics and such. When your ideas become transformational and unique to you – that’s when you should you move into the professional speaker space.
But if I think about it, most professional speakers had to start somewhere. Where “copying” was encouraged, tutored, mentored and even taught – in an ethical way. I caught the speaking bug when I was certified by Franklin Quest (before it merged with Covey to become Franklin Covey) to teach a FABULOUS time management course. I was licensed to copy. I was then certified to teach Total Quality Management (TQM) Principles and Tools by Organizational Dynamics, Inc. (ODI) – which gave me even more confidence.
And then I fell into the rabbit hole. I had been asked to facilitate a process improvement team, putting the TQM principles into practice – and I made every mistake in the book! Vowing never to let that happen to me again, I read everything I could about team/meeting facilitation. And I mean everything. Good news is that this is back in 1990, and there really wasn’t that much on “facilitation” as it was a new field!
Transformation comes from a mix of fundamentals matched with a desperate need. And so I invented a Team Facilitation Skills workshop – it is uniquely my own and has evolved over time. It still serves as the basis of my facilitation training and practice. Where appropriate, I still attribute the original thoughts to the masters who have gone before me, and I have brought new insights into the mix.
Theoretically, at this point, my work is ripe for a “breakthrough” – a combination of diverse ideas. And so I spend my weekends reading and researching other ideas. You just never know when creativity and breakthroughs will occur!
But then comes the slammer. I don’t want to be spoiler, but the interesting thing about invention is that several people might be heading toward the same path you are on.
So where are you on your presentation journey? A neophyte working at mastering the fundamentals and finding your own voice? A transformer where you have created original material or a breakthrough artist? I’m reaching for the breakthroughs – where presentations are more of a conversation with the audience. What about you?
Listen to this recent interview with Jim Blasingame, the Small Business Advocate, as we chat about how small business owners can make changes with their words, their actions, and how they reinforce the changes.
Just devoured Tim Sanders‘ new book, Today We are Rich. It’s an easy-to-read motivational book which is food for the soul – talking about increasing the confidence in your life. And when you have confidence, your life will be “rich”. Rich as in deep and meaningful, although wealth does come from your own internal confidence in life.
Tim is a consummate speaker and I can’t wait to hear the story of his grandmother, Billye and how she modeled the behaviors for total confidence as he was growing up on Oklahoma farm. I say “hear” because I can hear Tim talking to me as I was reading this book!
And when you read this book, just take a look at how Tim weaves small vignettes from his life and then ties them to timeless truths about success, confidence, and significance.
If you liked Tim’s earlier books, The Likeability Factor and Love is the Killer App, then I KNOW you’ll like his newest book, Today We Are Rich. But even if you haven’t read them or know about Tim’s work, check a free excerpt of his book here!
While doing a radio interview with Paula Morand on VoiceAmerica about my new book, Boring to Bravo, Paula asked me about the Five Sins. She was referring to the Five Sins of Teamwork, taken from my book, Team Basics! It took me a moment to wrap my head around the idea that these same five sins apply just as well to presentations. So here you go:
1. Talking At, Rather than With Others. Much like a parent talks at a child, some may present with an authoritative “I know this, and you don’t” tone. People with perceived ower typically talk at others in a direct and condescending manner. They tell them what they know, and they aren’t really looking at the audience reaction.
2. Talking About Other People. Much like when we were kids, when we don’t get our own way, we talk about other people behind their backs. In the presentation world, you may be talking about people without their knowledge. You are mentioning their name and saying something (good or bad) about them when they are not in the room. If it is a personal story and you have a relationship (good or bad), you should check with them first. See if it is okay to tell that story – especially if it might put them in a bad light.
3. Talking Around Them. In the era of email and voicemail, it is easy to flip indirect barbs about people – and we think they will never know. But email and voicemail are about as private as a postcard. Your presentation might be put on YouTube.com, blogged about, or tweeted, so if you aren’t willing to share the information with the bazillion people on the planet, don’t say it.
4. Whining. If you look hard enough, you can always find something to complain about. Constant complainers whine about what happened, didn’t happy, what they did, what they didn’t do, who they did it with…and the list goes on. Please don’t use the platform as your personal therapy.
5. Avoidance. Rather tha deal with the issue or problem we may choose to ignore it, hoping that it will go away. For presenters, this is all about your call to action. You have informed them, inspired them, and now they need to leave your presentation and go do something. Be specific about what it is that you want them to do, think, or feel differently as a result of your time together.
As we close the “Just Say No to Powerpoint Week”, did you succumb to the siren call of Powerpoint? And… if you just had to grab the remote, did you tell the story around the Powerpoint flashing on the screen? It’s all about the story – whether you are sharing a daring-do or a dry data dump. People can read your PowerPoint. What they can’t read is your story – your interpretation of the facts, events and images.
The Heath Brothers hit the proverbial nail on the head in this month’s issue of Fast Company . They said, “if you want change, close out of PowerPoint and start looking for the right feeling.” That’s right. They said “feeling.” In the article, the Brothers describe the story about Curt Lansbery, CEO of North American Tool who kept harping about how his employees should max out their 401(k) investments. Then, one year at the annual enrollment meeting, he brought in a zipped bag, unzipped it, and upended it over a table. Cash came pouring out of the bag – $9,832 to be precise – the amount of money his employees had failed to claim the year prior. He pointed at the money and said, “This is your money. It should be in your pocket. Next year, do you want it on the table or in your pocket?” There was a stunned silence….and then a rush to sign up.
Did Curt use PowerPoint to make the point? Not this time. He relied on a story. A pretty impressive “prop” to provide image and context – and to evoke the feeling that the audience should DO something.
What are you doing to evoke the feeling in your audience and inspire them to action?
TWO techniques today! Watch how Ian Percy, CSP, CPAE involves a well-known person into his story. You can also watch Emory Austin, CSP, CPAE, who later on in the same program, refers back to the comment Ian made! This “callback” is a much more spontaneous technique which requires you to be attentive to what goes on before your speech – and then you integrate and build on a bit that all would remember.
In addition to using inclusive language, try weaving in a few pronouns into your presentation. People just love to hear their first names, so mention their names when you can. Sometimes, this can come from a story you heard while mingling – or just reaching out to connect with a person during your presentation.
Check out this video blog that shows Joe Calloway, CSP, CPAE using inclusive language and personalizing his presentation.